Enhance 4K Club policy to develop better food systems
As Kenya strives to eliminate poverty and ensure access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food for all, it is important to train children the way they should live - especially on food and nutritional security - because even when they grow up they will not depart from it. Hence, the return of the 4K club policy is timely.
This policy in the 1980s and 90s served to encourage youth to engage in agriculture.
The club’s motto of Kuungana, Kufanya, Kusaidia Kenya (coming together and act to help Kenya) stands out as pure patriotism.
With the global theme of building resilience through hope in the just ended 76th session of the United Nation General Assembly, reintroduction of the 4K club is a novel idea especially in an effort to change attitudes among youth on their involvement in the agri-food sector.
The clubs will be a crucial platform to nurture food security conscious citizens.
Given the new understanding of food security as interconnection of different determinants, revitalising the clubs to enhance food, agriculture and nutrition knowledge is noble.
For instance, with the improvement of ICT, having children acquainted with new technology and processes of food production and consumption is critical.
This is particularly important for generational transition since research shows the average age of a farmer in Kenya is 60 years.
Further, the nutritional education to be embedded in the club programme will create awareness of healthy living.
It is noteworthy that there is a huge health burden occasioned by unhealthy foods.
This burden is causing unfathomable loss of time and human resource through death occasioned by non-communicable diseases.
Therefore, since good food is one of the critical elements in the development of human capital and the economy, success of the 4K club programme must be prioritised.
However, it must be noted its success depends on the food systems governance — a process where negotiation, implementation and evaluation of priorities is undertaken while building a shared understanding, synergies and trade-offs. Indeed, 4K Club policy will need multiple actors and actions.
Consequently, the continuity and sustainability of the programme must be assured.
We are a few months shy of the next General Election which will see another regime with different policy priorities taking over leadership.
For this reason, there is a need to establish a strong foundation for this programme to ensure its future existence.
The best way to ensure the existence of the 4K Club beyond the current administration will be through institutionalisation.
Reviewing and integrating institutional frameworks would act as a buffer for its policies.
For instance, implementation of the programme could be made mandatory instead of the current voluntary nature.
In addition, reviewing the curriculum of the teachers training colleges to build the capacity of more teachers is necessary.
The review of land policies could be another critical plank for successful implementation.
With the rapidly increasing population, there could be a need to consider aggregation of land adjacent to schools. This could offer needed land for development of the project.
Innovative financing mechanisms must be identified to fund the programme.
Besides government support, effort must be made to raise resources from different partners, especially those that pledged during the UNFSS summit.
For this resource mobilisation effort to succeed, intense lobbying must be carried out.
Use of technology could also boost the initiative in urban schools where land is scarce.
The kitchen garden concept and vertical farming could be a better way to go. — The writer is International Food Policy Analyst